Engaging the Francophone/Anglophone divide in researching Africa
Ms Amy Niang, Politics and IR, University of Edinburgh Scotland
Ms Muriel Cote, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh
Like other scientific disciplines, African studies are situated within specific knowledge/institutional configurations; this is perhaps most obvious in the division between Francophone and Anglophone scholarship that spans two of the discipline’s main languages. Partly rooted in different colonial histories, this divide is manifest in linguistic differences, but also in the intellectual traditions, methodological approaches and academic networks. Previous work has described certain theoretical aspects of the divide, particularly in relation to competing Francophone and Anglophone approaches to contested paradigms such as postcolonial theory and globalisation. We would like to expand these considerations beyond the field of theory and highlight the implications in contemporary and future research practice.
Our panel invites contributions that attempt to map out specific areas of the Francophone-Anglophone polarisation in African studies as sites of knowledge production that create both opportunities and constraints for research in and on Africa. Work on the nature of the divide is encouraged as a way to capture tensions, contradictions, continuities and change that pertain to the divide. In particular we suggest that these may provide a useful lens to articulate issues about collaboration with and amongst African researchers.
To what extent does the divide contribute to entrenching disparate clusters/communities of researchers and ideas? What are the implications for the maintenance or probing of resilient dichotomies such as scientific/lay knowledge, Europe/Africa, tradition/modernity, research/policy? These questions aim to bring forth assumptions contained along the divide and to shed light on ways these frame the scope of available modes of enquiry in African studies.
Please email panel organisers for any queries. Paper proposals (no more than 400 words) are due December 22, 2010.